In business school, one of the first things you learn is that it’s much more costly for companies to find new consumers than it is to retain e xisting ones. We’re at an intriguing point in time, where consumers are holding onto their vehicles much longer than we’ve ever seen. As the consumers hold onto each vehicle longer, their loyalty to the brand tends to decline — most likely because older cars have more problems. For that reason, it’s more important than ever for automakers such as Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) to focus on improving customer service and vehicle quality to retain market share.
Here’s a look at a recent study by R.L. Polk & Co.that ranks automotive brands by consumer loyalty.
Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) continues to take home the top spot, and is the only brand with a loyalty rate that breaks 60%. Those 13 brands in the graph are the only brands that had an increase larger than the industry average compared to last year’s numbers. Since the U.S. automotive market is fairly mature, you can expect that these thirteen brands have gained at the expense of the rest of the industry’s brands.
While Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is still dominating what I consider the most important sorting of these numbers — overall loyalty — General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) should get a nod for having three of the top seven most-improved loyalty ratings. Its Cadillac brand jumped 8.3 percentage points over last year, which was the second highest rate of improvement, trailing only Porsche. GMC and Buick jumped 5.7 and 5.3 percentage points, respectively, to land just outside the top five most improved.
The reason for all these jumps is pretty clear: After Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) exited the recession, a new focus was created to produce vehicles of higher quality in growing segments. Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)’s Fusion and Escape have had record months of sales this year, and have a chance to break over 300,000 in unit sales this year — a feat that only the F-Series has accomplished for Ford in nearly a decade.